Containing the growing risk of workers’ compensation retaliation claims

There is little doubt that claims alleging workers’ compensation retaliation are growing and OSHA is cracking down on employers that discourage the reporting of injuries or retaliate against those who do. The story is told in the following examples:

  • Indiana Court of Appeals upholds an award of more than $400,000 in compensatory and punitive damages
  • Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a jury verdict awarding $660,400 in compensatory and $3.6 million in punitive damages for retaliatory discharge
  • A U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit recently reduced a $4.2 million jury decision to $2 million
  • The Labor Department brought a suit against Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp mid-February seeking to reverse disciplinary actions against two employees for failing to immediately report workplace injuries in accordance with company policy
  • OSHA has ramped up it suits against employers for suspending or terminating employees who reported workplace safety hazards
  • Anti-retaliation provisions in OSHA’s electronic record-keeping rule go into effect August 10, 2016
  • OSHA launched a Whistleblower-Severe Violator pilot program in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa
  • In 2014, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned decades of its own precedent to reduce significantly the standard of proof for workers’ compensation retaliation claims under Missouri law
  • In 2013 about 100 federal and state court cases involving retaliation for workers compensation were decided, roughly double the number a decade before

Nicolas A. Dibble points out in the article, The Risk of Retaliation, four reasons for the high value awards in such cases:

  1. Public awareness. Ramped up advertising by attorneys coupled with headline-grabbing jury verdicts is a recipe for increased claims.
  2. Public perception. Jurors tend to believe that employers retaliate.
  3. Timing. An employee who seemingly has sacrificed physical health in the employer’s service and is denied a workers’ comp claim and then terminated can win over a sympathetic jury.
  4. Fraud. Advertising and social media encourage the reporting of insurance fraud. An unintended consequence is a “contention among workers that employers believe all claims are fraudulent.”

How to avoid workers’ comp retaliation claims

While there are times when discipline or termination of a workers’ compensation claimant is warranted, it is bad timing and the legal risks are significant. Most states have laws that prohibit employers from retaliation against employees who file a claim. In effect this means that a detrimental change in the employment relationship cannot occur – termination, demotion, lower pay, unwarranted disciplinary actions and so on.

Unless there is a well documented and proven egregious act or misconduct:

  • Don’t fire the employee within days or weeks of the claim, as there will be an inference that the two are connected.
  • Don’t punish employees who violate safety protocols only when an injury is reported. Ask the question, would your best employee be treated the same way? Treating employees consistently is key to non-discriminatory enforcement.
  • Don’t assume the employee cannot perform the essential functions of the job after an injury. Employers subject to the ADA should begin the accommodation process immediately.
  • Don’t use drug testing or the threat of it as a form of adverse action against employees who report injuries. A compelling reason for testing should exist.
  • Don’t offer incentives based on injury and illness rates.
  • Don’t allow the manager to discuss the claim or behave in a manner that suggests a retaliatory motive. If the claim goes to trial, the manager can be an asset only if he/she maintains impartiality.

Positive steps employers can take:

  • Do comply with the anti-retaliation provisions in OSHA’s electronic record-keeping rule and document your actions to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation.
  • Do review your procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses to ensure they do not discourage reporting, such as short windows of time to report, drug testing, and so on.
  • Do have a written policy prohibiting unlawful retaliation.
  • Do have a written safety program that is behavior-based and encourages the reporting of near misses as well as injuries.
  • Do provide and document workers’ comp retaliation claim training/counseling for managers.
  • Do inform temporary and contract workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation and ensure they receive proper training.

 

Things you should know

Roofers’ risk of fatal falls more than 60x greater than all other jobs combined

According to a post on Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, between 2003 and 2013 3,850 construction workers died as a result of falls – an average of about one death per day. The rate of fatal falls among roofers was over 60 times higher than for all occupations combined. Fall injuries were also more likely to occur among older workers, Hispanic workers, and workers employed in small establishments. Findings from the NIOSH FACE reports (1982 to present) show that among 324 identified construction fall fatalities, only 5.6% of the decedents were using fall protection.

Five states enact laws: Franchisors are not ‘Joint Employers’

Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee have amended Franchise Investment Laws to clarify that – unless the franchise agreement specifically states otherwise – a franchisee is considered the sole employer of workers to whom it pays wages or provides a benefit plan.

The laws arose from the 2015 ruling of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in NLRB v. Browning-Ferris Industries, which examined when a franchisor could be found to be a joint employer of its franchisee’s employees. The decision expanded the exposure of franchisors by noting two entities are considered to be “joint employers” of a single workforce if they share or co-determine matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment.

Mining and manufacturing have highest prevalence of worker hearing loss – study

More than one out of eight workers exposed to on-the-job noise suffer from some form of hearing impairment, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suitable seating mandated in California

Courts in California have been so busy with lawsuits about an employer’s obligations to provide cashiers, bank tellers and other types of workers with “suitable seats” under a California labor law that the federal appeals court asked the state high court to clarify the law’s requirements. On April 4, 2016, the high court issued a decision in Kirby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. that has significant implications for employers.

Epstein Becker Green, a national labor relations law firm, suggests in their blog many employers will need to reassess their practices and determine whether it is reasonable to provide seats to employees. Also, employers can expect that their practices will be challenged, and those challenges will often come in the context of class action lawsuits.

Meditation may help reduce back pain, study says

A recent study suggests that a mind-and-body approach may be more effective than standard care for alleviating chronic lower-back pain. The study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

BLS: Musculoskeletal disorders account for high number of DART injuries

Musculoskeletal disorders account for between one-third and one-half of all injuries resulting in days away from work, job restriction or transfer in six major industries, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report

In addition to the high prevalence of MSDs, researchers found:

  • Sprains, strains and tears had, by far, the largest incidence rate for job transfer or restriction across all six industries.
  • Repetitive motion involving micro-tasks resulted in the largest number of median days of job transfer or restriction for all industries except waste management and remediation services.
  • Workers 65 and older in the beverage and tobacco product manufacturing and courier and messenger industries had the largest median days of job transfer or restriction despite having the fewest number of cases.

 

Farm workers, hairdressers among professions linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma

New research has identified certain occupations and industries linked to the risk of workers developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a group of related cancers affecting part of the body’s immune system. A recent study, conducted by more than 30 researchers from 13 countries, included an analysis of 10 international non-Hodgkin lymphoma studies consisting of about 10,000 cases and 12,000 controls. The data confirmed associations between development of the cancer and employment as certain types of farm workers, hairdressers, cleaners, spray-painters, electrical wiremen and carpenters. The study was published in the April issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Increased protection for coal miners with black lung disease

The DOL’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has issued a final rule revising regulations related to the Black Lung Benefits Act and is intended to increase protections – including full access to medical information – for coal miners who have black lung disease.

Hearing impairment linked to Type 2 Diabetes

A review of studies of possible linkages between type 2 diabetes and hearing impairment concludes there is compelling evidence that diabetes can damage the auditory system, and that clinicians should include hearing testing in managing type 2 diabetes. The survey results were published in an article titled, “Type 2 Diabetes and Hearing Impairment” in the journal Current Diabetes Reports.

 

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.StopBeingFrustrated.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

Legal Corner

ADA

Driving may not be an essential job function for traveling salesperson – 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

A top, long-term sales representative for Pfizer developed an eye condition that badly affected her vision and she was unable to drive. She requested a driver to take her to and from her sales meetings. Pfizer denied the request but the district court found that the ability to drive an automobile was an essential function of the job as a salesperson. The 4th circuit court reversed, emphasizing that the job description said nothing about driving or even possessing a driver’s license. The court sent the case back to the district court to determine whether driving or traveling was an essential function of the job.

Takeaway: The case illustrates the importance of thorough and precisely worded job descriptions.

Obesity alone does not qualify as disability – 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

A man who was 5-foot-10, weighed 285 pounds and had a body mass index of 40.9 was conditionally offered a machinist position by Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF Railway Co. But the offer was rescinded when two medical examinations revealed his BMI exceeded a company policy preventing people with a BMI over 40 from being hired for safety-sensitive positions. An Omaha, Nebraska, District Court judge granted summary judgment in favor of BNSF noting that for obesity to be considered a physical impairment, it must be shown that a physiological disorder or other condition caused the obesity. Upon appeal, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

Employee can pursue suit for “associational” disability discrimination based on the disability of his son

In Luis Castro-Ramirez vs. Dependable Highway Express, Inc. an appeals court in California found that that an employee can maintain a suit for “associational” disability discrimination based on the disability of his son. The employee was terminated for refusing to work a shift that would have prevented him from performing his son’s dialysis on time. The appellate court held that the employee could pursue his claims for disability discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination, and retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), as well as wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

Potentially embarrassing reassignment did not violate ADA

In Kelleher v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Wal-Mart did not fail to accommodate a stockroom worker with multiple sclerosis by reassigning her to a night cashier position, even though the worker feared she would have difficulty and face embarrassment in performing cashier duties, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Accommodation was challenging because of the many job restrictions, but the position included many of the same duties as the stocker position, and only required operating the cash register when the store was unusually busy. The 8th Circuit found that her transfer to a new position was not an adverse employment action because she did not present any medical evidence that the duties of the position would be difficult for her.

FMLA

Workers’ Compensation compromise and release agreement precludes FMLA claim

A federal judge ruled that an employee who suffered an eye injury while working at a farmers market in Reading, PA had his FMLA claims precluded by a Workers’ Compensation compromise and release agreement. The worker was fired shortly after he returned to work for an alleged security breach. When his workers’ comp claim was resolved he signed a broad compromise and release agreement, which in effect waived the FMLA claim.

 

Workers’ Compensation

Federal case to watch: DOL sues U.S. Steel for injury reporting policy

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) filed suit against U.S. Steel for disciplinary action against two Pennsylvania-based employees who reported injuries several days after they occurred and were suspended without pay for violating the company’s policy of reporting an injury within 24 hours. DOL’s lawsuit charges that U.S. Steel’s action violates the anti-discrimination provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 5:15-cv-03874

Workers’ comp laws should be liberally construed – California

In the unpublished case of Rodas v WCAB, the Court of Appeal found that death benefits should be awarded for an employee who died from a pulmonary hemorrhage while taking out the garbage at work. His arteries were prone to bleed because of lesions caused by tuberculosis. The court noted it was difficult to pinpoint the cause of death and all reasonable doubts as to whether an injury is compensable are to be resolved in favor of the employee.

Slip on sidewalk compensable – Missouri

In Lincoln University v. Kathy Narens, an administrative assistant was leaving work, and injured her ankle on the employer’s property on the way to her car. The court of appeals found that the accident arose out of her employment, noting the accident was caused by an unsafe hazard of uneven ground and a congested walkway. The court concluded the presence of the hazard met the statute’s requirement that there was something more than just being injured while on property owned and control by the employer.

Employee’s testimony is sufficient evidence to support claim – Nebraska

In Tchikobava v. Albatross Express, a decision of the Nebraska Supreme Court serves as a reminder that an employee’s testimony may serve as the sole basis to support an award for a compensable injury. A lower court had refused to award temporary total disability for a 3 1/2-year period because there were no medical records regarding medical care, nor medical records to verify the nature and extent of the disability during that period. The employee, however, testified that during that period his pain was such that it was difficult for him to move, he did not try to apply for employment, and he continued seeking medical care.

In reversing and remanding the case back to the trial court, the Supreme Court noted that “a compensation court may refuse to follow uncontradicted evidence in the record, but when it does so, its reasons for rejecting the only evidence in the record should appear… Unless some explanation is furnished for the disregard of all the uncontradicted testimony or other evidence in the record, the [compensation court] may find its award reversed as arbitrary and unsupported.”

Widow receives benefits six years after husband’s death from heart attack – New York

A process operator in Albany International Airport’s glycol facility sustained a myocardial infarction, collapsed on the job, and died a few days later in December 2010. When the widow’s application for benefits was denied, the case went through several appeals each favoring the award of benefits. According to case law “a heart injury precipitated by work-related physical strain is compensable, even if a pre-existing pathology may have been a contributing factor and the physical exertion was no more severe than that regularly encountered by the claimant.”

Joint employee and lent employee doctrines – North Carolina

Whicker v. Compass Group USA et al considered whether both the cleaning contractor and the health center to which a housekeeper reported each day employed her. The agreement between the two companies specified the work to be done, but the health center didn’t directly oversee the cleaning crews. The housekeeper fell in the parking lot during a lunch break and broke her shoulder. Her claim was denied by the cleaning company as not in the scope of employment and shortly thereafter she was fired for an infraction of company policies. She then filed another claim citing both the cleaning contractor and health center as employers, hoping to benefit from an exception to the coming and going rule that injuries on the premises of the employer may be compensable. The courts, however, determined her injury didn’t occur in the course and scope of employment and further, she was not a joint employee of the two companies.

Parking lot injury not compensable – Pennsylvania

In Quality Bicycle Products, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Shaw), the employee injured his knee while he was running to his car due to a family emergency. While lower courts approved the claim for benefits, upon appeal, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania found that the injury was not in the scope and course of employment and the decision was reversed.

$17.7 million verdict in wrongful death suit – Texas

The family of a Texas ironworker, who was killed while working on a project to build a pedestrian bridge to the Baylor University football stadium for Derr and Isbell Construction in 2014, sued his employer for wrongful death. It was argued that the construction company, Austin Bridge & Road, by-passed safety procedures to accelerate the project schedule. The boom lift that the employee was working on when he fell into the river was not chained down to the barge. The jury in the trial decided that Austin Bridge and Road was responsible and awarded the family $17,720,000.

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

OSHA watch

Eye and face protection rule updated

The final rule revising the eye and face protection standards became effective on April 25. It revises the requirements for general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring, and construction by updating the references to national consensus standards approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

According to a notice “This new rule will allow employers to continue to follow the existing ANSI standards referenced or allow employers to follow the latest version of the same ANSI/ISEA standard… Employers are not required to update or replace protection devices solely as a result of this rule and may continue to follow their current and usual practices for their eye and face protection. Therefore, this rule has no compliance or economic burdens associated with it.”

Guidance on Zika virus

Newly released interim guidance from OSHA and NIOSH urges employers to train employees on the risks of exposure to the Zika virus and outlines protective measure.

Injury suffered while drunk on job is likely recordable

A new letter of interpretation states an on-the-job injury suffered by a drunk employee is likely a recordable case.

Final rule issued for handling retaliation complaints under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

A final rule establishing procedures for handling retaliation complaints under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act explains the burdens of proof, remedies and statute of limitations similar to other whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA administers.

Recent fines and awards

California

  • ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company in Torrance was fined $72,120 when inspectors discovered a temporary clamp installed in 2011 to prevent chemical leaks was not replaced until January 2016. Previously Cal/OSHA issued ExxonMobil 19 citations with proposed fines totaling $566,600 after a February 2015 explosion that injured four workers.
  • Wright Tree Service of the West, Inc. was cited for serious safety violations following an investigation into a fatal tree-trimming accident in Humboldt County near Weitchpec. The proposed penalties total $31,750.
  • Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc., and two temporary employment agencies, Abel Mendoza Inc. and RSJ Admin Services Inc. were cited following the October 15, 2015 release of chlorine gas at the company’s food production facility in Tracy that hospitalized 20 workers. Taylor Farms faces proposed penalties of $56,985.
  • DP Investments was cited after the employer violated a stop-work order that was placed on scaffolding at a Santa Barbara construction site. DP Investments was also cited for failure to report a workplace injury as required by law and proposed penalties exceed $100,000.

Georgia

  • Automotive parts manufacturer, Nakanishi Manufacturing Corp. faces $145K in fines after a flash fire severely burned a maintenance technician who was operating a dust collector when an explosion occurred.
  • Atlanta-based Jasper Contractors Inc. was cited for fall hazards twice in the same month and faces fines of $280,000.
  • Athens-based Martin Mechanical Contractors Inc. has been cited and is facing $54,000 in proposed fines after a 39-year-old worker fell to his death through an unguarded skylight while trying to unjam a saw stuck in the building’s metal roof.

Kansas

  • While investigating unsafe working conditions at Exide Technologies, a Salina battery manufacturer, inspectors initiated a second safety inspection after the company reported an unguarded machine partially amputated a 32-year-old worker’s left middle finger. The investigation found workers exposed to electrical and machine hazards and that the company had failed to implement a heat-stress program. Proposed total penalties are $127,300.
  • After an inspection initiated by a complaint, Harcros Chemicals Inc. of Kansas City, was cited for violations of process safety management procedures. Proposed penalties are $80,000.

Michigan

  • Painting contractor, V&T Painting of Farmington Hills, was cited for willfully exposing workers to lead on a Danville worksite. Proposed penalties of $121,880 also include scaffold deficiencies and a lack of fall protection.

Missouri

  • Well-known candy manufacturer, Russell Stover, was placed in the Severe Violators Program (SVEP) and is facing $193,600 in proposed fines after an ammonia release shut down one of its manufacturing facilities. While no one was hurt, the citations involve process safety management standards, an inspection priority.
  • Abec Inc., a Pennsylvania-based engineering and equipment manufacturer, was cited for two repeated and four serious safety violations after a follow-up inspection related to exposing workers to hazardous levels of hexavalent chromium and potentially deafening noise as they welded and grinded stainless steel and other alloy steels at the Springfield facility. Proposed penalties total $95,000.

Nebraska

  • After two workers suffered partial amputations of their index fingers in separate incidents, inspectors found numerous machines lacked safety guards at the Holdrege facility of Becton, Dickinson and Company, a global medical technology company. Proposed penalties are $112,700.

New York

  • Following the hospitalization of a worker who was overcome by vinegar fumes, The Rob Salamida Co. in Johnson City, which makes Spiedie’s Sauce and Southern Tier BBQ Sauce, among other rubs and marinades, was cited for one willful violation (confined spaces) and 11 serious violations for fines totaling $79,600.
  • Wingdale-based Olivet Management L.L.C., now known as Dover Greens L.L.C. has agreed to a settlement of $700,000 related to citations for exposure to lead and asbestos hazards. The settlement commits the real estate development and management company to provide and maintain enhanced safeguards for workers renovating the former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in Dover Plains and subjects them immediately to additional penalties if they violate the agreement.
  • Plank Construction Co. Inc., a construction general contractor in Schenectady, faces penalties of $59,000 following a trench collapse that sent an employee to the hospital.

Pennsylvania

  • Berlin Builders, a residential construction contractor with projects in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, was cited for exposing its workers to dangerous falls on job sites. In Limerick, the company faces fines of $121,176 related to the Springford Estates worksite and in Perkasie, $112,860 for the American House Building work site.
  • A twenty-one-year-old, who had worked for A Rooter Man of Pittsburgh LLC for just three weeks, was crushed and buried when the excavation in which he worked collapsed. The company faces citations of $174,000.
  • Allentown manufacturer, Lynar Corp. was cited for willfully exposing workers to amputation hazards and faces $54,000 in penalties.

Texas

  • Quality Christmas Tree Ltd., doing business as Houston Garden Center, was inspected following a complaint about an unreported hospitalization. An employee fell from a container hoisted aloft by a forklift and the company failed to report the in-patient hospitalization within 24 hours. The inspection resulted in 13 serious violations, two repeat violations and one other-than-serious violation and $117,000 in penalties.
  • Quick Roofing faces $80,000 in fines for repeatedly exposing Conroe workers to falls, ladder hazards, and eye injuries. The employer has been cited six times in three years for the same or similar violations.
  • Humanitarian relief company, Breedlove Foods in Lubbock was cited for 12 serious safety violations after a feed auger accident led to an amputation. Proposed penalties are $50,400.
  • Responding to a complaint, inspectors found struck-by, amputation hazards at Houston-based, Alfa Laval Inc., a global manufacturer of technologies in heat transfer, separation and fluid handling. Proposed penalties are $172,700.

Utah

  • John Kuhni Sons Inc. was cited for $76,250 in fines after a worker was caught in an uncovered rotating augur and suffered amputation of his lower legs. The animal rendering plant was cited for knowingly allowing workers to operate hazardous machinery without the proper machine guarding.

Wisconsin

  • An employee of the World’s largest sauerkraut company, GLK Foods LLC of Bear Creek, fell into an empty sauerkraut vat and suffered serious injuries. An inspection found multiple violations with proposed fines totaling $143,550.
  • Cellu Tissue-City Forest L.L.C. faces proposed penalties of $119,000 after a machine operator died as he serviced a high-speed conveyor belt in a Ladysmith-based paper mill.

Detailed descriptions of the citations above and other OSHA citations can be found here.

 

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

Workplace safety apps

Innovations in mobile and cloud-computing are helping employers reduce injury risk and enhance employee engagement. Workers can have real time access to do their job safely, such as referencing Safety Data Sheets (SDS) or monitoring heat, they can capture safety-relevant data such as reporting near misses and identifying and correcting hazards, and can facilitate teamwork with faster communication and collaboration. For management, the availability of dashboards and reports enables better and more efficient decision-making, improves accountability, and strengthens compliance.

However, the challenge is getting started, evaluating the options, and determining the best solutions. To begin, decide what you need to do and involve management and end users in the decision-making process. What is the purpose? Will it save time and improve your processes? How much connectivity do you need? Who will own the device? Will the end-user employees be comfortable with it and receive the necessary training? Will the opportunity to submit a report anonymously be allowed? How will privacy be managed?

Apps can be stand-alone or SaaS (Software as a Service), which is a way of delivering software applications over the Internet, with no complex software and hardware management. Standalone apps work best when the job can be done independently and SaaS works best if the job requires input from multiple people at once.

Companies can develop their own custom apps, use private-label reporting apps provided by vendors that specialize in safety management systems, or purchase apps from the Apple or Android App Store. With a custom-built app, you can oversee the development and get what you need, but it will require a considerable investment of time, patience, and money. Private-label reporting apps are branded with the company’s name and logo and often include a mobile app and online dashboard, which are connected. As an example, the focus could be on reporting near misses, safety violations, or facilities and operations issues that could lead to potential problems in the future, as well as enabling employees to check on the status of their reports.

There are hundreds of workplace safety and health apps available from the app stores and it takes time and research to determine which are a good fit for your organization. Some of the more popular apps used by safety professionals include:

  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Hazardous Chemicals: Developed by ThatsmyStapler.com, this is a searchable, mobile version of the NIOSH Pocket Guide, taken from the CDC’s Website.
  • NIOSH Ladder Safety aimed at improving step ladder and extension ladder safety, features a multimodal indicator and a graphic-oriented guide for ladder selection, inspection, positioning, accessorizing, and safe use. From the CDC, it works on iOS and android and is free and available in English and Spanish.
  • iAuditor provides custom audits, inspections, reports and forms. From SafetyCulture, it’s available for iPhones and Android and is free.
  • Fall Clear Lite from High Engineering Crop, calculates fall clearances and is a tool for workers, supervisors, competent and qualified persons who have been properly trained in fall protection. Free, it works on iOS and android.
  • Electrical Safety Tests developed by Mr. Combi Training, lays out common electrical safety testing, includes an Ohms Law calculator, and has excellent multi-meter graphics. It’s $2.99 and is available on apple and android app stores.
  • NECA Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) selector based on the NFPA 70E Tables, is task-based and assists users in determining the level of personal protective equipment that must be worn based on the level of incident energy. It’s $9.99 and is available on apple and android app stores.
  • Incident Cost Calculator developed in Canada by WorksafeBC but can be used in any country. Takes the user through step-by-step instructions to calculate the cost of a workplace injury, including custom analysis based on rates of pay. Available for iOS and android, it’s free.
  • OSHA Heat Safety Tool allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, identify risk level to outdoor workers, and get reminders about the appropriate protective measures. It’s free and in English and Spanish and links directly to the OSHA website.
  • ILO Ergonomic Checkpoints creates interactive checklists of ergonomic checkpoints to use in the workplace. There are 132 checkpoints and best practice recommendations for implementing effective improvements in ergonomics. App is free from Android or Apple app stores.
  • LiftRight from EMC Insurance Companies helps to use the NIOSH Lifting Equation to analyze the safety of lifting tasks. This free app works best for professionals with a working knowledge of how the equation works and how to use the results.
  • Trench Right, sponsored by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, performs calculations to help workers determine whether potential excavations are safe enough to be completed. Free app and available on Apple and Android App stores.

Related article: Eight Do’s and Don’ts of using mobile apps in the workplace (July 2013 WorkComp Advisory)

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

Major regulatory changes from OSHA and DOL rile many employers

In May, the Department of Labor (DOL) released two new rules that will have a significant impact on employers of all sizes and from all industries.

OSHA’s controversial final injury data submission rule worries many employers

OSHA’s stated objective in issuing the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule that requires employers to electronically submit worker injury and illness data, which will be made public, is to “nudge” employers to focus on safety. However, employers worry about privacy, unwarranted adverse publicity, misinterpretation of data, damaging use of information by competitors, public shaming, underreporting, and a usurpation of Congressional authority.

What the rule means

  • Establishments with at least 250 workers must electronically submit to OSHA, on an annual basis, information from their OSHA Forms 300, 300A and 301.
  • Establishments with 20 to 249 employees in certain high-hazard industries, such as construction, manufacturing, forestry, and agriculture, but also merchandise stores, specialty food stores, and taxi and limousine service, will be required to submit information from their annual summary form, OSHA Form 300A.
  • The applicable employee count is the total number of employees at an individual “establishment” (single physical location) at peak employment at any point during the year, including temporary employees, seasonal workers and part time employees.
  • All submissions must be made electronically to a secure website. In theory, OSHA will scrub all employee-identifying information (but not employer-identifying information).
  • OSHA will then make information available on its public website in a searchable database. While in the past, the data submitted on the forms has been private, now it will be available for the public to see and use at its discretion.
  • The rule also changes employer obligations for ensuring employees report all work-related injuries and illnesses. To counteract workplace policies that may deter or discourage employees from reporting work related injuries and illnesses, the rule adds harsher scrutiny of employers’ recordkeeping practices and new punitive elements for under-reporting and under-recording.
  • The rule includes a somewhat unexpected provision adding penalties for employers that take actions deemed as retaliation against employees who report accidents and OSHA will be the arbiter of retaliation claims.

Timeline of effective dates

  • Aug. 10, 2016: Provisions barring employers from retaliating against employees and mandating that procedures for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and must not deter or discourage reporting take effect
  • Mid November 2016: Federal OSHA-approved State OSH Programs must adopt requirements that are “substantially identical” to the new federal rule within six months after publication
  • July 1, 2017: Establishments with 250 or more employees and covered establishments with 20-249 employees in high-hazard industries must submit information from their 2016 300A Annual Summary
  • July 1, 2018: Establishments with 250 or more employees will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300 Logs, 301 incident reports, and 300As). Covered establishments with 20-249 employees in high-hazard industries must submit information from their 2017 300A Annual Summary.

Then, beginning in 2019 and every subsequent year, the information must be submitted by March 2nd each year.

The volume of data collected will be staggering and some doubt the ability of an agency the size of OSHA to manage it properly and the cost will be significant. While estimates vary as to the number of employers affected, most figures are in the half to three-quarter of million range.

What has employers worried?

  • Additional time and expense. Employers that do not maintain electronic records will have to set up systems, and others will have to modify their systems to interface with OSHA’s. For those employers who utilize an alternative to the OSHA Form 301, such as a workers’ compensation first report of injury, which is allowed by the existing rules, the changes mean that the employer also complete the OSHA Form 301.
  • Reported injury and illness information lacks important context of the circumstances, such as company size and cause of incident. An injury is recordable based on the outcome not the cause; it must meet the regulatory recording criteria. The report will not reveal if the injury was the result of employee misconduct, defective equipment from a third party manufacturer, another employer’s work activities, and so on.
  • Underreporting.There is great risk that employees will hide injuries to avoid having them publicized, and employers will find ways to keep their numbers down.
  • A very low threshold set for what constitutes a “high-hazard industry.” The threshold is a DART (Days Away, Restrictions and Transfers) rate of 2.0, which is close to average. (The Site Specific Targeting inspection program is 3.6)
  • Discouraging post-injury drug tests. According to a Business Insurance article, “OSHA rule discourages blanket post-injury drug tests,” the final rule does not ban drug testing of employees, but it does prohibit employers from using drug testing or the threat of testing as a form of adverse action against employees who report injuries or illnesses. Some lawyers recommend that employers do not have blanket drug testing policies, but limit drug testing to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident and for which the drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use.

What employers should do

While critics are actively voicing their concerns to Congress and there likely will be legal challenges, employers must begin to prepare now to comply with the new rule. Eric Conn, Chair of OSHA Workplace Practice Group, Conn Maciel Carey, advises:

  • Evaluate and begin to transition from paper-based injury and illness recordkeeping to an electronic recordkeeping system that is expected to interface with OSHA’s injury data submission portal
  • Provide refresher training in the recordkeeping requirements to the individuals responsible for maintaining 300 Logs and preparing 301 incident reports and 300A Annual Surveys
  • Engage counsel to conduct attorney-client privileged audits of injury and illness recordkeeping forms before submitting them to OSHA; continue to take a serious look at every injury and illness in the workplace and make a judgment about whether it’s reportable
  • Consider forming relationships with local occupational health clinics, where medical professionals are more sensitive to the types of treatment that turn otherwise minor injuries into recordable injuries (i.e., prescribing medication when over the counter medication or no medication would be just effective for the employee)
  • Evaluate and update injury reporting policies to ensure the proper notice is delivered to employees about reporting rights and expectations, and the reporting requirements are not too burdensome so as to discourage reporting of injuries (e.g., drug testing only when there are injuries, very short windows of time to report, etc.).

 

Final rule revising the current White Collar Exemption regulations

The long-expected final rule revising the current White Collar Exemption regulations raises the minimum threshold salary required to qualify as an exempt employee to $47,476, which is slightly lower than that proposed in 2015, but more than double the current salary threshold of $23,660. All employers throughout the country must meet the same mandatory salary level, $913 per week, to classify an employee as exempt.

The new rule also implements an automatic increase in the threshold salary level every three years based on the 40th percentile for salaried workers in the lowest-wage region.The rule also permits bonuses and incentive payments to count toward up to 10% of the new salary level. The updated rule, which will take effect Dec. 1, 2016, will affect 4.2 million workers, according to the department. It makes no changes to the current duties test.

Employers have a variety of ways to comply:

  • raise workers’ salaries to make them exempt from the overtime threshold
  • pay the mandated time-and-a-half overtime for those who do work more
  • reduce employee hours to avoid overtime work
  • reclassify employees and set their wages at a rate so that the total amount paid to the employee remains the same or reduce benefits or other compensation to off-set increases to the salary level (clearly not the objective of DOL)

 

In addition to the financial impact of increased payroll, employers must consider the effect on employees. Salaried workers who are reclassified as non-exempt workers may perceive this shift as a demotion in pay and status, as well as a threat to the reliability of their take home pay and flexibility to come in late or leave early. And what about answering emails and phone calls after hours? And will company phones and laptops mean an employee logs more OT? Telecommuters may feel Big Brother is watching. Moreover, benefits often differ for salaried and hourly workers.

Impact on Workers’ Compensation

Under the new rule, there is the potential for increased premiums, especially for small employers, given the role payroll plays in workers’ comp calculations. Raising wages or increasing overtime results in a gross increase in payroll, which is a factor in calculating workers’ comp premiums. The greater the payroll, the greater the premium paid. Claim costs may increase as well.

However, in most states (Pennsylvania and Delaware are exceptions) the premium portion of overtime pay is excluded from remuneration so the additional amount a worker earns for each hour of labor during overtime hours is not included. For example, if a worker who makes $20/hr. logs in 10 hours of overtime, only $200 of the $300 earned is included in the calculation.

It’s important to be sure there are clear records, breaking out the overtime paid. Also, let underwriters know the added payroll does not increase exposure because employees were already working overtime hours beyond 40 a week before the new rule but they were receiving a salary and not compensated for the overtime.

Take the time to plan

With less than six months until the effective date, employers should begin planning now:

  • Identify exempt positions where employees earn less than the new threshold. Decide if there are positions where you will increase the salaries above the new salary level. (If the salary is close to the threshold, it may be the best alternative.)
  • For employees likely to be reclassified, assess how many hours of overtime they now work. Review the tasks and determine what can be eliminated or reassigned. If overtime is necessary, weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing, adding part-time help, or paying overtime. Put restrictions on overtime work as needed.
  • Determine how benefits will change when moving from exempt to non-exempt.
  • If there are exempt employees who telecommute and will be reclassified, set up a system to monitor hours worked, such as software programs that monitor work activities. Be wary of the risk that employees will underreport hours worked and then later present claims for alleged off-the-clock work at overtime rates. Don’t be discriminatory, if some are allowed to continue to telecommute and others are not, there needs to be a solid reason (such as a disability) for the inconsistency.
  • Train reclassified employees on time recording policies. Remember many have not done this for many years or never did. Time tracking systems should be evaluated and potentially upgraded.
  • Update pay systems and ensure pay calculations have been properly restructured to reflect the proper hourly pay and overtime rates.
  • Plan how to communicate the changes to employees. Some employees will believe the shift from exempt to non-exempt status is something your company did for its own benefit. They may resent punching a clock, feel a loss of status, and be worried about flexibility. The onus is on HR and managers to evaluate individual situations and find a way to assure employees they’re not being “demoted” or “losing status.”
  • Consult legal counsel and expect challenges if some workers get pay raises to qualify for the new exempt salary level while other workers are reclassified as hourly employee.

The DOL website includes a video explaining the need for the change, as well as detailed “FAQs,” “fact sheets,” and guidance publications targeting some employers who will be particularly affected by the final rule – including non-profits, educational institutions, small businesses, and state and local governments.

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.StopBeingFrustrated.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

HR Tip: New FMLA Notice and Guide from DOL

The Department of Labor recently issued a new General FMLA Notice for employers to post in their workplace. Employers covered by the FMLA can continue to use the old poster or change to the new one, which is organized in a much more reader-friendly way.

The requirements for posting remain the same:

  • prominently displayed where it can be easily seen by employees and job applicants
  • displayed even if no employees are FMLA eligible, and
  • provided to each employee. This can be done via an employee handbook distributed to all employees, guidance distributed to employees explaining benefits or leave rights, or a general notice to all new employees upon hire
  • Electronic posting is permitted as long as it meets all the posting requirements
  • If a significant portion of the workforce is not English speaking, the employer must provide the notice in the language of those employees

In conjunction with the new General FMLA Notice poster, the DOL also issued a new 76-page guide on administering the FMLA. While the guide doesn’t impose any new requirements on employers, nor provide guidance beyond the letter of existing regulations, it does explain things in a more reader-friendly manner. Intended for employers, the guide includes:

  • “The Employer’s Road Map to the FMLA,” a quick-reference flowchart of the FMLA cycle and referencing required forms and notices
  • “Did You Know?” sections to give employers a heads-up on some of the lesser-known provisions and nuances of the FMLA regulations
  • Highlights user-friendly charts and explanation of the medical certification process, including what information is required in certifications
  • Provides a helpful overview of military family leave

 

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

Prescription drugs and opioids – more bad news

The recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) voluntary guidelines, “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain- United States, 2016”, sends a clear message urging primary care doctors to sharply deter use of opioids for chronic pain. Coming on the heels of the guideline, several studies reinforce the importance for employers to take an active role in managing prescription and opioid use.

Almost all doctors routinely overprescribe pain pills – study

Ninety-nine percent of primary care doctors routinely prescribe potentially addictive opioid painkillers for longer than the three-day period recommended by the CDC, according to a National Safety Council (NSC) survey.

Twenty-three percent of physicians surveyed said they prescribe at least a month’s worth of opioids. Evidence shows that 30-day use causes brain changes. Seventy-four percent incorrectly believe morphine and oxycodone, both opioids, are the most effective ways to treat pain. Research shows over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen offer the most effective relief for acute pain.

Other key findings from the poll include:

  • 99 percent of doctors have seen a pill-seeking patient or evidence of opioid abuse, but only 38 percent usually refer those patients to treatment. Only five percent will treat them for abuse themselves
  • 71 percent of doctors prescribe opioids for chronic back pain, and 55 percent prescribe them for dental pain – neither of which is appropriate in most cases
  • 67 percent of doctors are, in part, basing their prescribing decisions on patient expectations; however, a NSC poll in 2015 showed 50 percent of patients were more likely to visit their doctor again if he or she offered alternatives to opioids
  • 84 percent of doctors screen for prior opioid abuse, but only 32 percent screen for a family history of addiction – also a strong indicator of potential abuse

Doctors dodge repackaging restrictions by dispensing new drug formulations

Physicians frequently dispense prescription drugs with new strengths or formulations to injured workers in states that have enacted legislation to restrict drug repackaging, says a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute. In California, Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Illinois, the authors found that after reforms passed, physicians started dispensing new strengths and formulations of certain drugs that were previously not seen – or rarely seen – on the market. The variations were sold at a higher cost-per-pill than existing versions.

For example, the study found when dispensed by physicians in first quarter 2014, 7.5-milligram cyclobenzaprine, an extended release strength not found among pharmacy-dispensed prescriptions, was $3.01 per pill. Meanwhile, prices paid for existing strengths were significantly lower – at $0.38 per 5-milligram pill and $0.39 for each 10-milligram pill – when dispensed by physicians.

Abuse of employer-paid opioid prescriptions widespread

Nearly one-third of opioid prescriptions paid for by employers are abused, according to a new report by Castlight Health Inc. The study identified abusers as those who had received more than one 90-day supply of opioids, and who had gotten prescriptions from four or more providers over a five year study period. They excluded patients who were undergoing cancer treatments or in palliative care.

Cost implications are significant – workers who are abusing painkillers cost their employers twice as much in medical costs as non-abusers. The study suggests that those in the “Baby Boomer” age bracket are four times more likely to abuse opioids than younger “Millennial” patients. Their findings also showed that the majority of major cities with higher-than-average opioids abuse rates are rural cities in the South.

Workers’ Comp drug prices rise as utilization falls – Express Scripts

Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Inc. reports in its Workers’ Compensation Drug Trend Report that a decrease in utilization offset rising drug prices in 2015. Workers’ Compensation prescription drug spending per worker increased 2.2%, compared with 1.9% a year ago. Nine of the 25 most commonly dispensed medications in 2015 were opioids, which continue to be the most expensive and highly utilized class of drugs for injured workers despite a 10.9% overall decrease in utilization. High blood cholesterol drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anticonvulsants were the only three therapy classes in the top 10 workers’ comp drug classes that saw increases in utilization last year.

The use of prescription painkillers threatens employees’ safety and your bottom line.

To reduce risk and keep employees safe, the NSC suggests:

  1. Recognize prescription drugs have a big impact on the workplace
  2. Educate all employees about the hazards associated with prescription pain medication use, especially injured employees
  3. Put strong policies in place
  4. Require workers’ compensation and network providers to use opioid prescribing guidelines issued by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
  5. Expand drug testing panels to include synthetic opioids
  6. Train supervisors and employees how to spot signs of abuse
  7. Screen injured workers for depression, mental health conditions and current or prior substance use
  8. Require network providers to utilize state prescription drug monitoring programs
  9. Treat substance abuse problems as a disease
  10. Know the state and federal laws to ensure no discriminatory actions are taken against applicants or employees who lawfully use prescription medication

To learn more, read The proactive role employers can take: Opioids in the workplace

 For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

Don’t let employer-sponsored sports and events become “forced fun”

While many employers understand the risks of a compensable injury arising from a company-sponsored event involving physical or social activities, some get caught up in the morale-building and all-inclusive aspects and unnecessarily expose themselves to claims that affect their work comp costs. Consider a recent case in Minnesota, Shire v. Rosemount, Inc.

Under Minnesota law, any employee who is injured during “voluntary recreational programs” is exempt from workers’ comp coverage. The company held an annual employee-recognition event during work hours. Employees had to attend the event or use limited vacation time or take unpaid leave. The event included dinner followed by bowling, then a game of laser tag. During the game of laser tag, an employee injured his ankle and was unable to perform his normal work duties for more than one year.

This case went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court with the employer arguing the event was a voluntary recreational program because employees had the option of requesting paid vacation or unpaid leave time instead of attending. The employee argued the event was not voluntary because attendance was the only option under which he would get paid without using vacation time. The court agreed the injury was compensable because of the financial consequences to the employee – loss of pay or loss of vacation time.

The company further argued that even if attendance at the event wasn’t voluntary, participation in laser tag was voluntary, but the court also rejected this argument. It said the law addressed entire recreational programs or events, not individual activities within the events. By paying all of its employees or holding the event after working hours and not paying those attending, the company may have avoided responsibility for the claim.

Christopher J. Boggs, Vice President of Education for Insurance Journal’s Academy of Insurance, notes that the “course and scope of employment” doctrine that determines the compensability of an occupational injury extends to recreational activities while on the employer’s premises or at the employer’s “direction.” He notes that four tests are applied to the facts surrounding the injury to determine compensability of “Forced Fun”:

  1. Did the accident occur on the employer’s premises? An affirmative response does not guarantee compensability. Making recreational facilities available does not make the employer liable. But neither is it required that the injury occur on the employer’s premises to be compensable.
  2. Was the event or team organized by the employer? Company-organized softball teams competing in “industrial leagues” may qualify under this provision. However, several employees deciding to form a team is wholly different from a team organized by the employer, encouraging “good” ballplayers to participate.
  3. Did the employer pay for the activity? It is unclear if this refers to the total cost or a subsidy on behalf of the team.
  4. Did the employer benefit? Advertising in the community (team shirts), improved employee morale or better team work; an employer can “benefit” from these activities in more ways than tangible outputs.

Boggs advises “Make any and all social or recreational activities expressly voluntary. Any hint of requirement or employer benefit could cause a problem.”

There is no one rule that fits all and each case will be decided on its merits. States vary on when an activity might be considered forced and even the established rules have exceptions and do change. Before planning an event, it’s best to discuss your exposure with your broker.

 For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

Things you should know

Roofers’ risk of fatal falls more than 60x greater than all other jobs combined

According to a post on Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, between 2003 and 2013 3,850 construction workers died as a result of falls – an average of about one death per day. The rate of fatal falls among roofers was over 60 times higher than for all occupations combined. Fall injuries were also more likely to occur among older workers, Hispanic workers, and workers employed in small establishments. Findings from the NIOSH FACE reports (1982 to present) show that among 324 identified construction fall fatalities, only 5.6% of the decedents were using fall protection.

Five states enact laws: Franchisors are not ‘Joint Employers’

Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee have amended Franchise Investment Laws to clarify that – unless the franchise agreement specifically states otherwise – a franchisee is considered the sole employer of workers to whom it pays wages or provides a benefit plan.

The laws arose from the 2015 ruling of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in NLRB v. Browning-Ferris Industries, which examined when a franchisor could be found to be a joint employer of its franchisee’s employees. The decision expanded the exposure of franchisors by noting two entities are considered to be “joint employers” of a single workforce if they share or co-determine matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment.

Mining and manufacturing have highest prevalence of worker hearing loss – study

More than one out of eight workers exposed to on-the-job noise suffer from some form of hearing impairment, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suitable seating mandated in California

Courts in California have been so busy with lawsuits about an employer’s obligations to provide cashiers, bank tellers and other types of workers with “suitable seats” under a California labor law that the federal appeals court asked the state high court to clarify the law’s requirements. On April 4, 2016, the high court issued a decision in Kirby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. that has significant implications for employers.

Epstein Becker Green, a national labor relations law firm, suggests in their blog many employers will need to reassess their practices and determine whether it is reasonable to provide seats to employees. Also, employers can expect that their practices will be challenged, and those challenges will often come in the context of class action lawsuits.

Meditation may help reduce back pain, study says

A recent study suggests that a mind-and-body approach may be more effective than standard care for alleviating chronic lower-back pain. The study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

BLS: Musculoskeletal disorders account for high number of DART injuries

Musculoskeletal disorders account for between one-third and one-half of all injuries resulting in days away from work, job restriction or transfer in six major industries, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report

In addition to the high prevalence of MSDs, researchers found:

  • Sprains, strains and tears had, by far, the largest incidence rate for job transfer or restriction across all six industries.
  • Repetitive motion involving micro-tasks resulted in the largest number of median days of job transfer or restriction for all industries except waste management and remediation services.
  • Workers 65 and older in the beverage and tobacco product manufacturing and courier and messenger industries had the largest median days of job transfer or restriction despite having the fewest number of cases.

Farm workers, hairdressers among professions linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma

New research has identified certain occupations and industries linked to the risk of workers developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a group of related cancers affecting part of the body’s immune system. A recent study, conducted by more than 30 researchers from 13 countries, included an analysis of 10 international non-Hodgkin lymphoma studies consisting of about 10,000 cases and 12,000 controls. The data confirmed associations between development of the cancer and employment as certain types of farm workers, hairdressers, cleaners, spray-painters, electrical wiremen and carpenters. The study was published in the April issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Increased protection for coal miners with black lung disease

The DOL’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has issued a final rule revising regulations related to the Black Lung Benefits Act and is intended to increase protections – including full access to medical information – for coal miners who have black lung disease.

Hearing impairment linked to Type 2 Diabetes

A review of studies of possible linkages between type 2 diabetes and hearing impairment concludes there is compelling evidence that diabetes can damage the auditory system, and that clinicians should include hearing testing in managing type 2 diabetes. The survey results were published in an article titled, “Type 2 Diabetes and Hearing Impairment” in the journal Current Diabetes Reports.

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor